If you live in or visit Houston or Dallas, you spend time in two of the worst cities in America for red-light running. Houston is worst at No. 1, followed by Dallas at No. 7, in a recent survey by the non-profit Texas safety group National Coalition for Safer Roads. San Antonio avoided the list.
Traffic intersections are dangerous not only for red-light runners. Drivers also often fail to yield at stop signs or yield signs at intersections, and they also turn illegally in front of oncoming traffic. These dangers involve the fact that traffic passing through intersections, unlike traffic in the middle of a street, must cross paths.
Not only are intersections dangerous for crashes, but injuries in such crashes tend to be worse, in part because many collisions involve vehicles being hit from the side, or broadside.
An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study revealed that such side-impact or “T-bone” crashes are especially dangerous and that some side airbags don’t protect occupants adequately. A separate study at the University of Michigan showed that side-impact collisions could be more risky than rear-end or frontal crashes.
Vehicles’ back and front ends are designed to absorb crash energy and protect drivers and passengers by crumpling in the process. But the sides of vehicles have few ways to absorb crash energy, and impacting vehicles can press into the occupants’ space.
That can lead to serious injuries to the head, abdomen, chest and pelvis. Other injuries in side-impact collisions in intersections can be broken ribs or femur, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.
According to the Texas Department of Transportation, 692 persons died from car wrecks in Texas intersections in 2011.
Also, between 2004 and 2013, 181 persons died in Houston and 71 died in Dallas because drivers ran red lights at intersections. In that span of time, almost 700 persons died and 127,000 were hurt in red-light running crashes across America.
The National Coalition for Safer Roads says around half of victims are passengers and drivers of vehicles running red lights, while the other half are bicyclists, pedestrians and persons in the vehicle struck by the red-light runner. Indeed, red-light runners are the top cause of injuries in urban car wrecks.
While a crash can occur at any intersection, it’s important to be aware of the worst sites for intersection wrecks.
Among the worst intersections in the Dallas-Fort Worth area are:
As for Houston “hot spots” for intersection crashes, KPRC-TV has a map showing those sites for Harris County and surrounding counties. Some of these crashes occurred at:
The important thing to keep in mind while approaching and driving through intersections is that you can’t expect all drivers to yield properly. Thus, you must drive defensively and avoid a crash due to another person’s aggressive driving, distracted driving or drunk driving, as well as crashes owing to improper or confusing traffic signs or signals.
Also, be sure that you obey all right-of-way laws and the rules of the road. Slow down and scan the intersection on all sides before proceeding, and watch out for oncoming vehicles as you cross. Also check your rear-view mirror for vehicles that might be speeding toward you from behind.
Jim Adler & Associates supports driving safety and stands ready to protect the legal rights of Texans injured due to other drivers’ negligence and recklessness. Contact one of our car accident lawyers if someone in your family is injured in an accident at a traffic intersection or elsewhere on our roads, and get a free legal case review.